Category Archives: Construction

Updates from Aalto University

Launch times draw near for Aalto satellites
By Jaan Praks – The Aalto-2 satellite, designed and built by students, is ready and waiting to be launched inside the Cygnus space shuttle at the Cape Canaveral Space Launch Complex in the US.

On 22 March, the shuttle will be launched with an Atlas V booster rocket up to the orbiting international space station, where the astronauts will release it later to orbit independently.

Aalto-2 will take part in the international QB50 Mission, the aim of which is to produce the first ever comprehensive model of the features of the thermosphere, the layer between the Earth’s atmosphere and space. Dozens of satellites constructed in different countries will also be part of the mission.

Construction of the Aalto-2 satellite began in 2012 as a doctoral project when the first students graduated as Masters of Science in Technology after working on the Aalto-1 project.

Since the start of the Aalto-1 project in 2010 and the Aalto-2 project two years later, around a hundred new professionals have been trained in the space sector. The impact is already visible in the growth of space sector start-up companies. more>


Adequate Housing: Global Financial Institutions Hold the World to Ransom

By Aisha Maniar – Global real estate is valued at around USD 217 trillion, representing 60% of all global assets.

At a recent press conference, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Leilani Farha, stated that “Residential real estate is valued at $USD 163 trillion or more than twice the world’s total GDP.” She added, “Imagine if that capacity was harnessed for the realization of the right to housing instead of speculation and profit.’

In presenting a new hard-hitting report on 1 March, which “focuses on the “financialization of housing” and its impact on human rights”, Farha stated that “Housing has lost its currency as a human right” and “has been financialized: valued as a commodity rather than a human dwelling.”

The housing crisis, which “has not often been considered from the standpoint of human rights,” is global.

Many Western governments have adopted a “let them eat cake” response to the crisis. Rather than address the question of affordable and adequate housing, governments have acquiesced to market forces, with the governments of the UK and Ireland, for example, seeing a solution in building more private homes, to the benefit of developers, even though many properties lie empty in both states.

The Australian government continues to grant tax concessions to developers. more>

The Difficult Nature Of Housing

By Mariell Juhlin – It is truly a tall order to fully understand the contribution of housing to growth, welfare and prosperity among individuals and societies.

Rarely does housing research capture, or attempt to capture, the full socio-economic and dynamic effects of housing on individuals and society. Still, housing is affected by, and in turn affects, most other societal areas from architecture to private sector development. An obvious explanation is that housing markets are too complex to be described by unitary market equilibrium models and would require an empirical basis for submarket modeling.

This, however, has not been embraced in applied research to any greater extent and, when it’s been done, it has been subject to inconsistency. The likely implication of this is that the effects of a functional, or indeed a dysfunctional, housing market may be both under-estimated and under-valued in literature and policy-research. Why so? more>

Updates from GE

By Mark Egan – Called FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) in industry parlance, the floating facility is on a course to revolutionize the energy industry. Prelude will process natural gas at sea, where it is pumped from underneath the ocean floor — a process that normally takes place on land.

While Prelude is a giant, it’s still much smaller than a land-based plant, which creates special challenges, says Mike Peterson of GE Oil & Gas. His business unit is building and testing a key component for the FLNG facility called the dynamic flexible riser. These high-tech pipes bring the gas up from the seabed before it is cooled to around -160°C (almost double the lowest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica) and turned into liquid.

The risers have been designed to withstand some of the harshest weather and sea conditions imaginable. They are being built and tested in GE’s facility in Newcastle, U.K.

“They are like very fancy garden hoses,” Peterson says. “We build them from layers of metallic and polymer components. Each weighs around 320 tonnes and must be capable of functioning for 25 years through thick and thin.” more>

Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan won’t work while he’s president

By Allison Schrager – Interest rates have been so low that the potential long-term national economic benefit from improving US infrastructure, such as roads, airports, bridges, and internet access, could easily outweigh the cost of borrowing money to do it.

Now US president-elect Donald Trump is pushing forward with infrastructure plans rooted in such analysis. But there are two vitally important wrinkles to the argument to consider:

  1. The right kind of infrastructure spending will take several years to have any perceptible economic impact; there is no instant   gratification here, given the nature of projects and the current low level of US unemployment.
  2. Interest rates are rising in anticipation of such spending, making borrowing to fund it more expensive.

The result is that the projects will ultimately cost more and, if the right projects are selected, any economic benefits will take longer to arrive.

It seems how well Trump’s infrastructure plan will work will depend on how patient he is. Given the state of the economy, boosting economic growth will require picking useful infrastructure projects. They have the potential to boost America’s productive capacity for years to come. more>

Updates from Autodesk

Autodesk – The integration of WoodEngine inside AutoCAD Architectural allows the user to share the same single 3D model for the different building steps. The complete structure, foundations, walls, floors and roofs can be modified at any time.

The Timber Frame wall wizard works with user defined styles. Intelligent variants in detail design are drag and drop from the tool palette (Extremities, Lintels, Beam Pockets, Openings …). The panels 2D Manufacturing drawings are made quickly and with automatic dimensioning.

The Floor module helps the user to frame floors and their different components (Joists, Decking, Hangers…) according to his personal rules and knowledge. Floors properties can be impacted directly by the walls types (Load bearing, Internal …). more>

A Little Light Construction: Laser Welding in Three Acts

By Brian Simonds – Welding is said to be more art than science. In part, this is a nod to the vital, skilled work that welders perform. It’s also recognition of the fact that the physics of the process is really, really difficult to understand.

The laser welding process begins, as one might imagine, when a laser is focused to the surface of a metal. Although the surface initially reflects most of the light, it absorbs enough to cause significant heating. This heating slightly changes the way the metal interacts with the light, which in turn causes more absorption and even more heating.

Once the metal gets hot enough, it begins to melt and evaporate. The now-molten metal pool reacts to this evaporation by recoiling and creating a depression in the surface, like a trampoline reacting to a heavy load. When this depression is deep enough, it sends some of the reflected light back onto itself, which increases the absorbed light, creating more melting, generating more evaporation, making a deeper depression, creating more absorption, then more melting, and so on.

This continues until all the light is absorbed and a deep hole, called a keyhole, forms. In cross section, this looks something like a molten metal tornado with a hollow cavity surrounded by a turbulent funnel of very hot liquid. This all happens within the first few milliseconds.

In their textbook Modern Welding Technology, which has been metaphorically welded to my neocortex, H.B. Cary and S. Helzer estimate that as much as 50 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product relies on welding in some form or another.

The obvious applications of welding are in the manufacturing of big things like cars and trains, but there are less obvious ones like the battery casing in your mobile phone or the metal stents used to reopen clogged arteries. more>

Updates from Autodesk

Autodesk – Chalkline, Inc. has released the next generation of BIM integrated specifications and documents to the Architectural, Engineering, Construction, and Owner/Developer marketplace. A successful 6 month Beta Program for both Chalkline and VisiSpecsTM users has resulted in real world usage, collaboration with customers, added features, and user experience enhancements.

The AECO market recognizes the need to better integrate and coordinate their design and construction documents. The resulting higher quality and higher profit projects is obvious to those adopting a BIM methodology, yet the solutions available have not met the need for a variety of reasons.

Deployment of the VisiSpecs solutions is also easy and low cost due to the VisiSpecs Hybrid Cloud solution. Corporate accounts, master libraries, projects, models, and other content are all securely managed in the cloud with user access on demand from the office, home, or while traveling without jumping through IT hoops, punching holes in firewalls, setting up VPNs, or waiting for IT admins to download, install, configure, license, and maintain the typical SQL server applications in the marketplace. more>

The Underestimated Role of Simulation in Architecture, Engineering and Construction

By Deepak Datye – We need to think about product, nature, and life together not only to allow for creating innovative designs, but also to provide optimal functionality, ensure safety, and safeguard sustainability, for ecological well-being. Product, nature, and life, hence, need to play a conjoined role during planning for large engineering projects such as city developments, large transportation projects, as well as dam and irrigation works.

This will need to be done through realistic simulations that take into account precise geometry and material properties, realistic representations of physical and natural processes, and rational predictions of experiences by people.

Representing products as they are has become fairly widespread and well understood. Engineers are able to create a detailed geometrical representation of the product, be it a doubly curved concrete superstructure, a curved Plexiglas window on an undersea hotel structure, sound absorbing acoustic panels inside auditoriums, or roof tiles and linings in railroad tunnels.

The key however to understand how an entire structure will behave in real life is to accurately represent the material properties it’s composed of, including the response behavior of the material to changes in stress and temperature over time, and material degradation due to interactions with humans and natural surroundings. more>

Updates from GE

2 Largest Steam Turbines Ever Made Are Heading For The English Countryside. Here’s Why.
By Mark Egan – The machine—the largest steam turbine ever built—is longer than an Airbus 380 and taller than the average man. A pair of them, each capable of producing 1,770 megawatts—is now set to cross the English Channel to provide energy for generations.

The turbines are heading from their birthplace in a GE Power factory in Belfort, France, to Somerset, England, where EDF Energy is building Hinkley Point C, Great Britain’s first new nuclear plant in a generation. The plant, which is expected to be complete by 2025, will generate enough low-carbon electricity to power around 6 million homes—or about 7 percent of the U.K.’s power needs. It will also and create 25,000 jobs. The U.K. government approved the £18 billion ($23.8 billion) project yesterday (Sep 15).

Designed to last 60 years, the machine boasts reliability of 99.96 percent, according to Frederic Wiscart, GE Power’s general manager for steam power systems. He says that the machines are so large—their blades alone stretch 75 inches—because of the massive volumes of steam nuclear power plants produce: five times as much as gas-fired plants of the same size. Arabelle turbines are now used in one-third of the world’s nuclear power stations. more>